This year has been a bit of a bummer in some ways in the world of public libraries, mostly caused by the threatened closure or handing over of libraries to volunteers, by local authorities. Lots of people have been working on fighting against the cuts.
Scores of friends of libraries and campaign groups have formed all over the country, taking on Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt’s roles as superintendents of their own local library services – standing up and saying “No!”, whilst Mr Hunt and Mr Vaizey (who both have some kind of Government responsibility for libraries) do very little.
People are fighting the cuts in so many ways…
- As part of an organised campaign or friends group.
- By signing the Women’s Institute libraries petition. (15,798 online signatures so far. Come on, we need more signatures than this!)
- By signing local petitions.
- Writing newspaper articles or blog posts to highlight what’s going on.
- Commenting upon newspaper articles or blog posts about the cuts.
- Responding to library consultations.
- Local Councillors voting against decisions to cut in their areas.
- Anyone who has spoken to friends, families or strangers to highlight what’s going on.
- Anyone whose taken note of someone who’s spoken to them about UK public library cuts.
- Sharing a web link or a news article about the cuts.
- Running library events as a way to highlight the message.
- New and existing library users who have found out that libraries are of more use to them than they realised and are making use of them in new ways.
Any of these actions make me realise that I (and other library service colleagues around the country) are valued. It’s a thought that gives me a smile, despite having to watch the battle between those who want hack away at library services and those who want to save them.
This post was triggered by a thought I had after reading the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries open letter addressed to Ed Vaizey. This letter highlighted concerns about his inaction over the past year regarding public library cuts and asked for people to support and sign the letter too.
I looked at that letter yesterday to see who had signed it and, as a public librarian, I was genuinely touched by the number and wide range of people who had signed it and left comments in support of public libraries and their staff.
After reading that letter I realised that as a public librarian I hadn’t said thank you for a long time for the support people are giving public libraries during this tough time. I know some people are putting so much effort in that it’s basically like having a second job!
So… thank you to everyone and anyone, wherever you are, who has said “No” to public library cuts over the past year or so. It’s the nicest Christmas present you could have given me. 🙂 You really don’t know how much I appreciate it.